Benefits Of Urban Parks

Dear Editor:

Lost in all the turmoil over development plans for Skaha Lake Park is a reasoned discussion about the purpose of our urban parks, and of Skaha Lake Park in particular. Much research over the past decade or more has confirmed that urban parks, as places of peaceful relaxation and recreation, have a significant impact on the physical and mental health of our urban populations. Urban parks are quite distinct from private amusement parks, usually themed and built to serve the commercial interests of the owner.

Park experts recommend that urban park planning be directed at maximizing these benefits, including an emphasis on trees, other natural features such as ponds and streams, winding walkways, and peaceful settings that enable us to escape stress and enjoy healthy passive exercise, such as walking. Active exercise amenities are also valued, such as basketball and volleyball areas or space to just throw a Frisbee around. Children’s play areas are very important and could include playgrounds and splash pads.In planning for our urban parks, surely we would seek to maximize these attributes.

Finally, public park amenities belong to all citizens and must be freely accessible to all since it is often those who can least afford to pay who will benefit most.

Well, you couldn’t find a better prototype for such a park than our own Skaha Lake Park – exactly as it is. It fits the above description to a T. It is an urban gem and a model for other communities.

We should be grateful to our Parks department for creating it and doing such a great job of maintaining it. Further enhancements are not needed, especially amenities that would turn it into a private themed amusement park that would be totally incompatible with the peaceful ambience of this model urban park. The proposed commercial waterslide would not enhance our beautiful Skaha Lake Park, it would defile it. So far this aspect doesn’t seem to have entered the waterslide debate and it is very likely that our mayor and Council never even considered the aspect of compatibility and how the Trio development would negatively impact the health benefits of the existing Skaha Lake Park attributes.

If they can move from entrenchment and give this serious consideration maybe it’s not too late.

Dr. Gerry Karr
Penticton, BC